The proposed closure of the Abuja airport to effect repairs on it runway and taxiways has led to a division among unions in the industry.
While three unions are against the closure, one is clamoring for the closure to carry out the repairs for safety sake.
Few weeks ago, unions under the aegis of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN ,and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, NAAPE, in a letter to President Buhari vehemently kicked against the closure was counter productive in an ailing economy.
However, Aviation professionals under the aegis of Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) says the closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, NAIA, Abuja for the six-week at this time is apt to prevent further incident on the runway.
ANAP Secretary General, Comrade Adulrazak Saidu who made the position known in Lagos airport said that the association is in total support of the closure and use of Kaduna Airport as alternative airport in the interest of safety of the air travelers.
According to him, Kaduna is best alternative to Abuja airport as it has a longer runway than Minna Airport, “with a longer runway and better access road to Abuja, Saidu averred that generally, Kaduna airport is far better than that of Minna Airport”.
Saidu advised stakeholders to desist from unnecessary politicking and face safety issues, stressing that ANAP is talking strictly on professional levels.
The union leader who insisted that Abuja airport repair is not negotiable expressed surprise at the input of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA in the matter.
“I am surprised at the input of NCAA on this issue. What is the DG NCAA doing on matter of safety? What is his job. I am calling on the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to sack Usman, the DG because the NCAA has criminally remained silent on the issues. The silence of the regulator is suspect”
He therefore, emphasised that ANAP is disassociating itself from the three unions letter to President Mohammadu Buhari, kicking against the airport closure.
Saidu also lamented the hardship and damage international carriers are passing through, saying that they have been victims of damaged runway at the airports.
“International airlines are losing millions of dollars to replace their landing gear. An Air France aircraft is now parked in Abuja due to bad landing gear arising from poor runway. Another Lufthansa aircraft is also parked in Port Harcourt for the same issue”.
He said “I am also surprised unions can dabble into professional matter. The letter to the President has become political. We don’t need to wait for a crash to fix Abuja Airport runway. There is no parking space in the air and that is why we are emphasising safety. Safety and security are critical areas to consider” .
Also speaking on the Abuja airport repairs and possible closure of the runway, Secretary General of Nigerian Union of Pensioners FAAN branch, Comrade Emeka Njoku said it is expedient that the authorities repair the airport.
Comrade Njoku advised the Aviation Minister to first of all consult the former Managing Directors of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN before taking any decision whether to close the airport or not.